If you have children, resolving your custody battle could be one of the most difficult parts of your divorce. Likely, you and your spouse disagree about what an ideal custody arrangement looks likes. Achieving consensus can be challenging, and you two may have reached an impasse. If your case ends up in front of a judge, it is important to understand what factors Alabama courts consider when awarding custody.
Alabama’s custody laws
Two different kinds of custody exist, both which can take sole or joint form. Legal custody designates whether you, your spouse or both of you will have the right and responsibility to make decisions about your children. And physical custody designates whether your children will live with you, your spouse or both of you.
Courts in Alabama, by law, must consider joint custody as an option in divorce cases. Yet, the court will only award joint custody in your divorce if it is in your children’s best interests. To determine whether it is, the court will weigh numerous factors, including:
- The proximity of your and your spouse’s individual residences to each other
- Whether you and your spouse have a history of cooperating with each other about parenting matters
- Whether you and your spouse will both encourage your children’s relationship with the other parent
- Whether you or your spouse has a history of – or the potential for – spousal abuse, child abuse or parental kidnapping
Keep in mind that Alabama does not give preference to mothers or fathers in custody cases. Rather, the court will award custody to the parent – whether you, your spouse or both of you – with the moral character to care for your children. The court will also account for your children’s ages and sexes when making custody decisions. And the court may consider your children’s wishes as well, if they are of the appropriate age and maturity.
Many factors affect the outcome custody cases in Alabama, and it is important to understand how your unique circumstances will impact yours. With the help of a family law attorney, you can fight for an arrangement that reflects your children’s needs.